Experiments with Truth: Analysis

The Ukrainian soccer ultras — allies of the resistance

Though little discussed, the Ukrainian soccer ultras have been an important force behind civil resistance in Ukraine. This might come as a surprise. Ultras are generally associated more with violence and hooliganism in and out of stadiums than with nonviolent resistance.

Admittedly, the rise of ultras, as a purposeful political agent actively involved in defense of a popular revolution, has not been an entirely new phenomenon. The most recent example included the 2011 Egyptian revolution where soccer ultras played a crucial role in defending Tahrir Square, particularly during the Battle of the Camels. They fended off the government thugs that attacked them on camels. In contrast, the Ukrainian soccer ultras supported the nonviolent Maidan in Kyiv and did not join in violent clashes with the police when they occurred on a few days of the revolution.

Instead, the Ukrainian ultras declared their nonviolent credo, set aside club rivalries and engaged in various civic campaigns. Their political organizing became even more spirited after the Maidan revolution and the invasion and annexation of Crimea by Russia. Ultras built up their unity and in a patriotic call for action began organizing for a “united Ukraine.”

More Follow External Link to Elena Volkava and Maciej Bartkowski, openDemocracy